The Day After
As was anticipated, a mob of rioters, shouting anti-Sikh slogans, came marching towards the factory compound. I was shocked to see some of them stopping to torch a house on the way, after bolting it from outside, with the obvious intention to burn the occupants inside alive. I asked the cops on duty near the factory gate, to please go and save their lives, but they preferred to look the other way, and let the rioters do whatever they wanted to do. They even had the audacity to advise me to go home and have a good sleep. It became clear from their attitude that they would do nothing to protect the factory from those rioters, if instead of returning from the house on fire they headed towards us. Exactly the same happened. The two cops did not challenge them at all when they charged towards the factory, obviously knowing that it belonged to a Sikh. As soon as they came closer, I instantly recognized their leader, a trade union activist whom I knew well since my first employment where besides other duties I also dealt with union matters. He too recognized me and warmly responded to my greeting. I pleaded with him not to torch the plant as that would throw so many workers out of work. He listened to me, as I had listened to him once and got all the demands he had made on behalf of the workers granted by the management. He agreed to leave the two plants, old and the new, that I had helped to set up, unharmed.
“The owner must thank his stars for your presence here that saved his factory from total destruction, on which we were determined. To give him the message that Sikhs must be punished for what they did, we will only torch his office, especially the chair on which he sits.” And they set the office on fire.
Not much damage was done. The fire was quickly extinguished with the help of workers after the rioters returned. Our friend, the owner, was very happy and grateful that his factory was safe, and the workers were the happiest as their jobs were intact. But there was one person who was not at all pleased with what I had done that day to save the factory. It was the retail store manager who was to join me at the factory that morning. He was cross with me for coming to the factory during the day of anti-Sikh disturbances.
“I had purposely avoided to be present at the factory that day. In fact, I wished the owner was there at the factory when the rioters came, and he had met the same fate as hundreds of other Sikhs who did not survive the killings. We could have then occupied the factory and run it as our own, like so many other Sikh establishments had been taken over by their employees after their owners had been eliminated.” He said in a complaining tone as if I had caused him a big loss by my presence in the factory on the fateful day.
I was shocked and wondered how wicked and mean a man could be. I was sad for our friend who had trusted such a harmful man for so long. And alerted him on the sinister intentions of his store manager, before he did anything devilish to harm him.